Friday, January 8, 2010

For those friends of mine, and myself, who have anxiety issues or panic disorders...this post is for you.

I am reading a book titled Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel G. Amen. Very interested read so far and I recommend that everyone read it. Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist and performs SPECT scans on patients to see the functioning of their brains. His research and findings along with helpful recommendations are all found in this book.

So, anyway, I thought I would share some quotes with you that struck me. Dealing with anxiety myself, I was first surprised that it has a biological component. It is called the basal ganglia in the brain. When this area is over active it can sometimes lead to ADD, OCD, or anxiety disorders. In this particular chapter, Dr. Amen "prescribes" some relaxation techniques to help people cope.

I'm not going to write them all here, but just a few. The first is a breathing technique. Many times when people experience panic or fear, they begin to have much shallower and quicker breathing which leads to inefficient oxygen and an overproduction of carbon dioxide in the brain. So, Dr. Amen and my therapist simply say to take deep breaths from the belly. My therapist gave me a technique that I like to cal 4+4=8. Take a breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and release through pursed lips for eight seconds. I like to do this while listening to music personally. This is magic to me because most people will not even notice that you are doing it. When I release in that 8 count, I can literally feel my body relax. It's great.

To quote Dr. Amen, "shifting the center of breathing lower in your body will help you feel more relaxed and in better control of yourself. Practice this diaphragmatic breathing for five to ten minutes a day to settle down your basal ganglia".

The other techniques mentioned have to do with killing automatic negative thoughts, guiding imagery, self hypnosis, and others.

The main breakthrough for me while reading this is that I can change my brain chemistry. That at some level within me, my "problems" if you will, are caused by my brain. Some of it is mental, some of it is physical. And that physicality lets me know that I can change it if I want to. So, here's to good reading!


Phyllis Renée said...

I recently discovered Valerian Root. I only have occasional bouts with anxiety, mostly due to stress. But I can take one Valerian Root capsule and within 30 minutes I feel very calm.

[I love your layout, btw.]

Kelsy said...

My dad takes Valerian root before he plays darts to stop shaking and I've heard good things about lowering anxiety too. Thanks for the post!